mlb 08/28/07 11:16 AM ET Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for]]> Sure, it might seem like all the best names are already up, but trust me, there will be a few guys that, at the very least, will be worth checking out. If you're trying to guess who will get called up, there are a few guidelines to follow:

1. Is the player already on the 40-man roster? If he is, then there's a better chance of him coming up for the final month of the season. If he's in a position where he'd have to be put on the 40-man roster this coming offseason, there's a chance a team may make the move early to see what they've got, but not as much as if he were already on the roster.

2. Is the player involved in a Minor League playoff race? If he is, the parent club may very well wait until the playoffs are over to call that player up. That could mean a mid-September callup, or the team could decide that the experience of playing in the postseason was enough and not bring an otherwise qualified player up at all.

3. Is there an opportunity to play at the big league level? This is more important for fantasy players looking for help now, but even those of you looking for long-term help will want to see how a player does in a callup as one of the measures to determine whether you want to keep that player. More often than not, playing time will come on a team out of contention with an opening at a spot, either now or for next year. Losing teams may sit a veteran if they think the Minor League callup will be the guy in 2008.

As a disclaimer, none of these guidelines are guarantees, but you can use them to do a little advanced research and maybe try to pick up a guy or two ahead of the rest of the pack. Next week, we'll look at the names and what they mean, but for now we'll hit a regularly scheduled edition of the Exchange.

In the bigs

The best name to get called up this past week belongs to Houston lefty Troy Patton. The Astros' top prospect was OK, but not great, in his big-league debut over the weekend against the Pirates. It remains to be seen whether or not he'll get more starts the rest of the way. It has nothing to do with how he performed, but rather that Houston has some injured arms coming back at the same time. Patton's next turn would presumably come Friday in Chicago, so watch the probable pitchers lists carefully. I think he's worth taking now in NL-only leagues and definitely in keeper leagues and here's hoping the 'Stros decide to let him stay in the rotation the rest of the way so they can evaluate him for a permanent spot in 2008.

Fellow lefty Aaron Laffey is back up with the Indians and it looks like he may hang around a while as the team's No. 5 starter. He pitched well on Saturday against the Royals as he used his change a lot more effectively. It's interesting to note that he was chosen over Cliff Lee and Jeremy Sowers to take the turn. With the Indians playing better ball again of late, if Laffey can stick, he could pull in some victories. He's not going to wow anyone with Ks, but for AL-only folks looking for pitching help now, there are a lot worse options out there.

Maybe I'm in the minority at this point, but I still think Kendry Morales is going to be one heckuva big-league hitter. He came up to replace the injured Casey Kotchman and went 4-for-11 over the weekend. He has nothing left to prove in the Minors, hitting .341 overall and .438 in August (to go along with a .753 SLG) before getting called up. It's unclear when Kotchman will be back or if he'll have to hit the DL, but keep Morales in there for as long as Kotchman is out. If Kotchman is out for a longer period of time, I think Morales is ready to produce for any fantasy league of any size.

A phone call away

At this point, it might not come until Sept. 1, but Jacoby Ellsbury really should be back in the big leagues. Sure, Coco Crisp has rebounded from a putrid start to August with a modest seven-game hitting streak to bring his average for the month to .244. But Ellsbury has a 22-game hitting streak going, has hit .386 in August and has posted a .393 OBP to go along with 41 steals. To me, he's a better option than Crisp and is certainly better than Bobby Kielty. Yes, it's unfair to throw Ellsbury into left at Fenway, but maybe Crisp can slide over. At any rate, Ellsbury remains an oustanding keeper choice because he should be Boston's leadoff hitter in 2008.

Speaking of hitters I think should be up in the bigs now, what are the Reds waiting for with Joey Votto? I know Scott Hatteberg is having a nice year and the Reds are suddenly just 6 1/2 games out, but don't kid yourself. Besides, they'd be more competitive with Votto at first than Hatteberg, in my opinion. He's hitting close to .300 with 22 homers, 89 RBIs and 16 steals. Fantasy owners, unite! We need some sort of movement to free Votto from Triple-A Louisville because the power-speed combination at first base doesn't come around very often and Votto clearly is ready. I guess we'll all have to wait until Sept. 1, at which point let's all hope the Reds come to their senses and play him every day.

A year away

High school outfielders from the 2005 Draft have been getting a ton of buzz, what with Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin already in the big leagues. Last week, we talked about another one, Andrew McCutchen, who's reached Triple-A. But we shouldn't forget about Colby Rasmus just because he's still in Double-A. The Cardinals' prospect has been about as hot as a guy can be of late, hitting .489 with six homers over his last 10 games. He's rebounded from a very sluggish June and July to hit .405 in August, with 10 homers and a 1.340 OPS. For the season, the center fielder who could replace Jim Edmonds in 2008 has 26 homers, 37 doubles, a .927 OPS and 18 steals. Oh, and he just turned 21 this month.

Max Scherzer missed a year, more or less, negotiating his deal (well, Mr. Boras probably did most of that) with the Diamondbacks. He's tried to make up for lost time since signing, though, and continues to pitch well in Double-A. After a rough July (6.04 ERA), he clearly made some adjustments, as evidenced by his 2.63 ERA and 32 strikeouts over 27 1/3 August innings. He's headed to the Arizona Fall League to try and shorten that learning curve even more.

Isn't in time we start considering Eugenio Velez a legitimate prospect? A year ago, he was too old for his level in the South Atlantic League, though his 64 steals and .557 slugging were impossible to entirely dismiss. So the Giants moved the infielder up to Double-A in 2007, though he got off to a late start because of injury. The one-time Minor League Rule 5 Draft pick hasn't hit for power in Double-A, but anytime a guy hits close to .300 and steals 47 bases in 91 games, it's time to start noticing.

Down the road

I'll start with a 2007 draftee who signed early and thus is a little ahead of some of the other high school pitchers from this class. I'm talking about Rangers' first-rounder Michael Main. While others, like fellow Texas first-round pick Blake Beavan, didn't sign until right at the deadline, Main was out pitching. And pitching well. After 12 2/3 innings in the rookie-level Arizona League, during which Main fanned 16, gave up just two runs and kept hitters to a .196 batting average against, he was moved up to the short-season Northwest League. He got roughed up in his first outing, but in his two appearances since then, he's gone 10 innings, allowed just one run on four hits and struck out 13 against two walks while facing mostly older competition. He may even get the chance to pitch in the playoffs. This all means he'll undoubtedly be ready for full-season ball in 2008, well ahead of the curve.

It will be interesting to see if he can catch up to Texas' 2006 first-round pick, Kasey Kiker. Also a high school Draft selection, the lefty has been brought along carefully and I think the Rangers will benefit from that next year. He didn't join full-season Clinton until May and they've been very cautious with his innings total and pitch counts. Still, you can see some signs of dominance, namely his 98 strikeouts in 84 2/3 IP. The wraps can come off more next year and I can see him jumping a couple of levels as a result.

We'll end things with a hitter, shall we? When the Braves took Cody Johnson in the first round of the 2006 Draft, some eyebrows were raised. It didn't help that the raw and talented outfielder hit just .184 with 49 strikeouts in 32 games during his debut in the Gulf Coast League last summer. Well, take a look at him now. Playing in the rookie-level Appalachian League, Johnson has been an absolute stud. He easily leads the league in home runs and slugging, he's second in RBIs and he's even seventh in batting average. He's still got a ways to go, but that certainly is encouraging, especially when you consider he just turned 19.]]>